Too much happened during 2011 to adequately highlight it all here in this editorial. Revolutions and revolts in the Middle East and North Africa. Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown in Japan. Occupy protests around the world. Our world has being shocked by the ongoing effects of natural and capitalist disasters. But as I wrote in March, governments and civil society around the globe have the opportunity to significantly alter our excessively militarized, over-consuming, socially and economically inequitable world to one that promotes just and fair economic policy, sustainable, environmentally-friendly energy, and nonviolent settlement of conflicts.
Reaching Critical Will has continued pursuing its piece of the puzzle. We’ve been providing coverage from all UN meetings on disarmament and arms control, following attempts to break the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament, the process to negotiate an arms trade treaty to prevent arms transfers that will result in human rights violations, and much more. We’ve also tried to respond to current events, producing an international civil society report in September on the costs, risks, and myths of nuclear power and coordinating a study on the modernization of nuclear weapons (which will be out in March 2012). We have also provided information and analysis on military spending, the arms trade, and nuclear weapons that will be useful to activists in national and local settings. We look forward to working with you in the new year to continue this work.
As we look ahead to 2012, the calendar looks pretty full. We have arms trade treaty negotiations, a small arms review conference, the first preparatory committee for the next NPT review cycle, and a conference hosted by Finland seeking to establish a weapons of mass destruction free zone in the Middle East. But we also see many opportunities, inside and outside the UN and the realm of disarmament, to affect change and social progress. Who knows what 2012 will hold.
Ray Acheson, Beatrice Fihn, and Gabriella Irsten
2012 NPT PrepCom update
Preparations for the next NPT review cycle will soon begin. The first Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) will be held in Vienna from 30 April to 11 May 2012. Information on NGO accreditation will be released in February 2012. In the meantime, there are two things you can do if you’re interested in participating in the PrepCom:
Exhibition space in the building in which the PrepCom will be held is extremely limited and arrangements need to made months in advance. If you have been anticipating creating an exhibit, [email protected] please contact RCW immediately.
Whether or not you are planning to attend the PrepCom, consider getting involved in drafting civil society presentations to the meeting. NGOs are generally allocated time to address PrepCom delegates in an official meeting. You can subscribe to the listserv we use to draft presentations by going to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/npt_presentations.
Information on hosting side events, attending the PrepCom, and more will be available in early 2012, so please stay tuned to the RCW E-News for details.
Success at the CCW!
In late November, states parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) met in Geneva to decide whether or not to adopt a new protocol to the convention that would regulate cluster munitions. The controversial proposal would have undermined the already existing ban on cluster munitions under the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM), which has 111 signatories and entered into force in August 2010. The draft proposal up for debate would have re-legitimized the possession and use of certain cluster munitions and arguably would have led to an increased likelihood of their use in the future. It also would have been the first time that a treaty would have been adopted after a stronger treaty had already entered into force.
However, a strong campaign led by parties to the CCM and civil society prevented the biggest cluster munition possessors and users—including the United States and China—from undermining the global ban. As Thomas Nash wrote in a blog piece, “We are all Costa Ricans today,” it’s “hard to ignore the increasing number of examples where the ‘big boys’ are not getting their way. Authoritarian regimes being overthrown in the Middle East, grassroots mobilisation through the Occupy movement and now – in its own little way – a rejection by small and medium sized states together with civil society, UN and ICRC of a bid to legalise cluster bombs.” Those working to abolish nuclear weapons—be inspired!
WILPF participation in 16 Days of Activism 2011 Campaign
“From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let's Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women!”
Prepared by RCW’s sister project, PeaceWomen:
10 December marked International Human Rights Day. WILPF Sections and members around the world celebrated the end of our collective participation in the 2011 “16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women” Campaign. “WILPF’s participation in this year’s campaign was very powerful. From Kinshasa to Geneva to Bogotá, WILPF sections successfully organized and participated in a variety of inspiring and strategic activities, all united to challenge militarism and violence against women at home and during conflict,”remarked Maria Butler, PeaceWomen Director, WILPF UN office on the last day of global campaign.
On the final day of campaign, WILPF Nepal held a seminar with women affected by conflict. WILPF International screened the film theWhistleblower and held a panel discussion featuring Kathy Bolkovac and Madeleine Rees in Geneva. A US rally was also held at City Hall Park, Burlington, Vermont.
Recalling WILPF participation in the 2011 campaign,the President of WILPF-Democratic Republic ofCongo (DRC)section, Annie Matundu Mbambi noted: “We are activists and during the 16 Days we demonstrated our united participation to call for gender equality and an end to impunity, violence and all forms of oppression. This meant a lot to us in Congo”. DRC was one of WILPF’s 17 national sections that took part in the campaign. Annie and our WILPF sisters in DRC bravely went ahead with their seminars despite serious security concerns linked to pre-election violence and unrest. The seminars brought together many grassroots activists, WILPF members and legislative candidates. At this critical time, WILPF sections around the world stand united in solidarity with our sisters in DRC in the hope of a post-election period free from intimidation, violence and instability.
As the Campaign ends, we celebrate and acknowledge all our members and WILPF participating sections which included: Australia, Colombia, Costa Rica, DRC, Denmark, Germany, Finland, India, Mexico, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Switzerland, Sweden, the UK, and the USA, as well as activities in Geneva arranged by the International Office of WILPF.
Some WILPF highlights from around the world:
Women of Bolivar province in Colombia marched to spread the message “multiplying our voices for the right of women to live a life free of violence” (November 25). Seminars and practical workshops on violence against women, women as peacebuilders and on women’s participation also took place in various locations around the country including Cartagena, Bogotá, Villavicencio and San Jacinto. Ximena Correal, Director of WILPF Colombia explains: “We developed a workshop in San Jacinto and San Juan in order to strengthen communication skills. Women collaborated to teach each other the importance of alternative media in recognizing, appropriating, and spreading information. Women created a community newspaper for each place. They were very motivated to use these tools as a way to communicate all they do as women leaders”.
Several sections including, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland, WILPF International, the USA and Finland screened films highlighting the need to expose and address violence against women. Many sections screened the prize winning “The Whistleblower” featuring WILPF Secretary-General, Madeleine Rees in her former capacity as the head of the UN High Commissioner’s office in Bosnia. ‘Pray the Devil back to Hell’, was also screened in Zurich by our Swiss section.
Reflecting on the Whistleblower film screening in Burlington Vermont, Robin Lloyd, coordinator of WILPF Burlington shares: “Forty five students and community activists turned out for this very educational and sobering discussion and film screening. Several dozen postcards [to reform immunity systems] were signed and will be sent to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon”
Many of WILPF’s sections also arranged demonstrations, featuring the blowing of whistles, to attract attention to human rights abuses and the particular need to address violence against women. Among sections ‘blowing the whistle’ was Australia, where demonstrations took place in Queensland and Tasmania and then the US where a rally is being held today at City Hall Park, Burlington, Vermont.
Costa Rica also used theatre as a medium to spread the 16 days message with an interactive play encouraging audience participation and response being shown near San Jose.
Our WILPF participants in Pakistan managed to coordinate an activity everyday for 16 days. Highlights, of these events included workshops on violence against women with women health workers and a session with male policemen, visits to schools, women prisoners in Rawalpindi jail as well as to a women’s IDP camp.
WILPF Nigeria held a seminar focused on Women, Peace and Security, which brought together over 75 participants to discuss priorities. The meeting recommended to local officials including the Commissioners of Police in Enugu to engage more with local grassroots women and to establish a SGBV department in the Police.
In Geneva, International WILPF hosted a two-day legal expert meeting on how we can develop legal mechanisms and connections to further our aims to redefine security, invest in peace and uphold human rights.
December 10 also witnessed the official presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the three 2011 female recipients: Leymah Gbowee, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia) and Tawakkol Karman (Yemen). WILPF stands in solidarity with these women as we continue our work to promote gender equality and women’s participation in all forms of conflict prevention and peace-making.
For more information on WILPF activities globally during the 16-day campaign click here.
For comments on WILPF’s participation in the campaign contact Maria Butler [email protected]
To see WILPF’s work on our websites: www.wilpfinternational.org; www.peacewomen.org; www.reachingcriticalwill.org
For the official website ‘16 days of Activism Against Gender Violence’, click here.
Women, War & Peace
From IANSA Women’s Network:
Women, War & Peace is a new five-part PBS television series challenging the conventional wisdom that war and peace are men’s domains. The five-part series reveals what IANSA Women have known for years: how the post-Cold War proliferation of small arms has changed the landscape of war, with women becoming primary targets and suffering unprecedented casualties; yet, they are simultaneously emerging as necessary partners in brokering lasting peace and as leaders in forging new international laws governing conflict.
Women, War & Peace spotlights the stories of women in conflict zones from Bosnia to Afghanistan and Colombia to Liberia, placing women at the center of an urgent dialogue about conflict and security. Featuring narrators Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, Geena Davis and Alfre Woodard, Women, War & Peace is a co-production of THIRTEEN and Fork Films.
Watch the trailer here:
The full episodes are available here:
Internships at the Los Alamos Study Group
The Los Alamos Study Group, one of the most fabulous organizations working on nuclear weapons and environmental issues in the United States, is seeking interns in 2012. The following intern announcement is geared towards students seeking course credit. Others may be welcome to apply, please contact the Study Group for details.
The Los Alamos Study Group seeks two qualified, enthusiastic upper division or graduate students to work with us during the spring 2012 semester.
Applicants must arrange course credit, either through the University of New Mexico Peace Studies Program or another relevant UNM program, department, or major.
These internships entail 16 hours of work, all during ordinary working hours, at the Study Group office near UNM Law School for 14 weeks out of the semester. Thanks to a matching grant from the A. J. Muste Memorial Institute, the Study Group can provide a $500 stipend for each internship.
The Study Group is very actively engaged in a number of nuclear weapons, defense policy, and related budgetary issues on Capitol Hill, in two federal courts, and elsewhere. We work closely with administration officials, weapons experts, congressional staff, United Nations staff, non-governmental organizations, our attorneys, and journalists.
These two interns will assist the Study Group in expanding and amplifying our outreach to members of Congress, journalists, and political leaders in New Mexico. They are highly responsible positions that can make significant contributions to nuclear disarmament. Prior issue knowledge is not required.
Experience, Education, Skills
These internships will be as rewarding as they are challenging. Interns will gain not just experience in nuclear weapons policy and related issues but also knowledge and skills relevant to citizen intervention and organizing in any arena of public policy.
Past interns have gone on to a variety of graduate programs or to jobs in disarmament and nonproliferation at the Department of Energy and the United Nations. While here with us, our interns have built coalitions, helped pass local ordinances, and prepared significant publications.
The Study Group’s husband-wife staff team, together with our supportive and experienced board of directors, provides balance, maturity, and extensive activist and technical experience. The working environment is warm and focused.
Candidates will be in their last two years of college, or in graduate school. Applicants must relate well to people with a diversity of perspectives and show some combination of particular skills, relevant experience, enthusiasm, and overall maturity. Candidates of all adult ages are encouraged to apply.
Interested applicants should write a letter of application of one page or less to Trish Williams-Mello at [email protected] Further information about the Study Group is available at our web site.
Seventh Review Conference of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention
5–22 December 2011 | Geneva, Switzerland
Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World
14–15 January 2012 | Yokohama, Japan
Fourth preparatory committee for the UN Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty
13–17 February 2012 | New York, USA
The Red Cross/Red Crescent calls for the elimination of nuclear weapons
In November, the Council of Delegates of the world's national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies have approved an historicresolution calling for the total elimination of nuclear weapons and pledging their determination to work towards this common security goal.
Israeli civil society group calls for diplomacy with Iran
On 6 November, Israeli disarmament activists demonstrated in front of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, calling on them to “stop the madness, before it is too late” after news stories stated that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are considering a military attack on Iran. The vigils took place in front of the Ministry of Defense offices in Haifa and Tel Aviv on Sunday 6 November. The Haifa vigil had about 20 activists and the one in Tel Aviv had over 100 activists. See the ICAN press release for details.
Hibakusha speak to Brooklyn high school students
Setsuko Thurlow, a survivor of the Hiroshima nuclear bombing, urged a library full of students at Brooklyn International High School to work towards a world without war.
Protests against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project continue
On 21 November, protests against the construction of the power plant in Tamil Nadu spread into the sea, with people from the fishing community from Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi districts laying siege to the seas off the project site with black flags hoisted on their boats. Sasi, a fisherman from Idinthakarai, said that as there was a threat to the marine wealth from the plant, the fishermen had decided to observe the World Fisheries Day as ‘black day’. Police swiftly slapped sedition charges against protestors, saying that they moved too close to the plant. The police registered cases against 3,015 persons, under various sections, including 121 (waging war against country) and 124-A (sedition). The cases were registered against protest leaders, including S P Udayakumar, M Pushparayan and Father Jayakumar.
Australian government issues support for sale of uranium to India
In November 2011, the Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, announced her support for the sale of uranium to India. This would require the governing Labor Party to lift its longstanding ban on uranium sales to countries that have not joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). See ICAN’s resources for more details.
Greg Mello, “A Nuclear Facility We Don’t Need,” New York Times, 14 November 2011.
Walter Pincus, “Thinking outside the Cold War nuclear box,” The Washington Post, 14 November 2011.
Rebecca Johnson, “South Korea: destroying the lives of the Haenyo ‘sea women’,” openDemocracy, 18 November 2011.